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Champions League Weds. preview: Group stage conclusion

Man City

Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola speaks during a press conference at the City Football Academy, Manchester, England, Tuesday Dec. 11, 2018. Manchester City will play Hoffenheim in a Champions League soccer match on Wednesday. (Martin Rickett/PA via AP)


Manchester United has already clinched its spot in the UEFA Champions League knockout rounds and faces rivals Liverpool on Sunday in the Premier League, but manager Jose Mourinho isn’t mailing it in when it comes to his lineup on Wednesday in Valencia.

[ MORE: Champions League standings ]

Mourinho will start Paul Pogba and use all senior players at the start of the match, though he is bringing a pair of youngsters for the experience. From

“I’m looking for him to play well, and to have a good impact in the game and in the team. ... [It will be] a team with many players that don’t have many miles in their legs, a team with some players that are not playing a lot. So I hope that people like Paul and a couple of others that are normally in the team, who have the number of miles that players need to be at that top level, I hope that they can have a good impact on the team.”

Britain Soccer Champions League

Manchester United’s Paul Pogba, centre, during the training session with teammates at the AON Training Complex in Manchester, England, Tuesday Dec. 11, 2018. Man United will play against Valencia, in their Champions League group stage soccer match on Wednesday. (Mike Egerton/PA via AP)


Man City has also clinched its spot in the next round but still has the group’s top slot in play and is also smarting following its first league loss since last Spring.

City fell to Chelsea 2-0 at Stamford Bridge this weekend, and will host a Hoffenheim side still attempting to finish in the Europa League place.

Rest players? With Sergio Aguero, David Silva, and Kevin De Bruyne unavailable, Pep Guardiola doesn’t have much of a choice as to who he can suit up on Wednesday at the Etihad Stadium.

“We have 15 players available, so I can’t do it too much,” he said.“We are in next stage which is important but we have to try and win every game, to finish first. Last 16 is always tough but in general the next Monday when there is a draw it’s a success we are there and the team we will face will be tough.

“They were incredible against Donetsk and they lost. It was incredible and fascinating to watch as a spectator. My admiration for Hoffenheim has increased. I knew about Julian Nagelsmann and his team but now I realize how tough tomorrow will be.”

The other match to monitor is in City’s group, where Shakhtar Donetsk and Lyon remain alive for the last spot in the Round of 16.

Full UEFA CHampions League docket

Viktoria Plzen vs. AS Roma -- 12:55 p.m. ET
Real Madrid vs. CSKA Moscow -- 12:55 p.m. ET
Young Boys vs. Juventus -- 3 p.m. ET
Benfica vs. AEK Athens -- 3 p.m. ET
Shakhtar Donetsk vs. Lyon -- 3 p.m. ET
Man City vs. Hoffenheim -- 3 p.m. ET
Ajax vs. Bayern Munich -- 3 p.m. ET
Valencia vs. Manchester United -- 3 p.m. ET

Follow @NicholasMendola